By Ed Heiland
In bustling College Park, a passerby might view Downtown Credo as just another little coffee shop. But inside, where baristas grind, filter and then pour the steaming blend, a philosophy is also brewing.
“I wanted to serve a city in a way that challenged people to think about who they are becoming rather than just what they have,” Ben Hoyer said.
When Hoyer returned to his Central Florida roots after college, he wanted to serve up something to make a difference. He worked to establish a non-profit first and then cultivated it through buying coffee from South American growers at higher than fair trade prices.
“So the coffee growers we work with in Guatemala were friends of a friend basically, that’s how we got there and that’s one of the things we want to encourage people to realize is that you’re not that far away from anyplace in the world, you can live a life of global impact,” Hoyer said.
Each cup helps makes a local impact through Downtown Credo’s partnerships with four organizations in Parramore, Holden Heights and the Callahan neighborhoods. Among the many projects every month, elementary school kids join a community trash pickup. There’s also an annual kids bike rally, “get fit weeks” and classes in gardening and sewing.
At Credo, it’s pay as you go coffee. There is no set price. It’s what you feel you should donate.
“So rather than just be a consumer and buy something, they get to start thinking about how am I living a life of global impact with small choices,” Hoyer said. “I donate and become part of something rather than just buying, a consumer and being divorced from the problems of the world.”
Disney and others have recognized Downtown Credo for investing in kids. But, Ben and his team believe what’s important is giving something to the community that’s more precious than money — their time.
“A life of meaning, impact and community starts with steps so small that they almost seem silly but that’s where it starts,” Hoyer said. “You’ve got to take the small steps before you take the large steps.”
Ben is hoping Downtown Credo will be able to start another community headquarters in Orlando, serving coffee and helping additional neighborhoods.